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Thread: Economics: TPPA - MITI Down?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Economics: TPPA - MITI Down?

    Miti down?

    Last week I chose to go alone to watch the movie ‘White House Down’. I liked the movie because of the simple moral and human dimensions highlighted within the film. It was rated P13 in Malaysia, which means it is suitable for the whole family. Wish I could have taken my whole family.

    In fact it is so clean or simple a movie that I could not even figure out why the ‘hero’s wife and the sub-hero’s mother and father’ did not even have basic communication within a context of some kind of positive family kind of love.

    Be that as it may... it was still a very feel good movie. Not only does good reign over evil, but the heroes appear to be very ordinary people. Moreover, by the end of the movie, the president of USA appears to achieve his ‘Middle East peace agenda’. What can be a better movie storyline to compete with Bollywood or Chinese movies.

    Miti down over the TPPA?

    Last week also I happened to see a NST “almost editorial centre-page piece” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) written by none other than former prime minister of Malaysia... often regarded as a statesman prime minister. We (at the National IT Council executive directorate) worked closely with Dr Mahathir Mohamad from about 1996-2003. Therefore, while I do not know him personally, I know the quality of work he is capable of doing.
    Before my final years of my Pegawai Tadbir Diplomatik (PTD) Service on secondment with Mimos Berhad, I had served in the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) for almost five full years.

    Some of our greatest achievements were the setting up of Matrade and SME Corporation, the IMP2, Domestics Investments Initiative, tripling the technical manpower supplier training, and the many Investment Guarantee Agreements which we signed with many countries as part and parcel of our promotion of Foreign Direct Investments, even without doing any ‘lawatan sambil belajar’. The minister forbade such visits and we did all by email communication.

    My personal highlights were the IMP2 which we called the Manufacturing Plus Plus strategy and the phasing out of the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) based on the Montreal Protocol. In the first, we radically changed the approach and strategies of investment promotion by recognising the reality of the ‘organic view of the world of trade and investments’. The second was a pro-environment strategy.

    Therefore in the IMP2, we moved from the earlier emphasis on 13 investment industry sectors towards creating economic value through more natural and organic investment clusters. We made the argument that within our competitive industrial clusters, we had to move up the value chain by promoting value creation which involved more value added by Malaysian SMEs of suppliers and domestic business clusters with investment partners.

    Of course ideally this would lead to the creation of Malaysian brands and Malaysian-owned IP or patentable products. That was true value creation and value addition.

    Therefore, my move to Mimos Berhad, as executive director of the NITC, was a natural shift towards continuing the above knowledge economy argument through what we then called ‘information-intensive and knowledge driven clusters’.

    The IMP2 argued for moving up the value chains towards both R&D and distribution and marketing for clusters wherein Malaysia needed to be competitive without also excluding our the resource-based industries. Only our policy-based industries faced some real challenges of market-based competition, and therefore our subsidies needed to be protect with some limits to ensure that the cost of Malaysian industries are not compromised.

    One of my greatest supporters was Tengku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff (left), the then-CEO of Proton because he was among the few who studied and absorbed the full contents of the IMP2. Nevertheless, MITI’s greatest failure in implementing the IMP2 was the leadership failure of the Master Plan Steering Committee.

    We failed in steering Malaysian traders and industrialists to move up the value chain in terms of open market competitiveness. Malaysia is too small a nation-state to speak like China or India or Indonesia in terms either or our market size or market demand. That was why even the 80 million population thesis was an equally stupid and impossible idea because try as we may (and I do have the requisite five children) the maths and stats did not allow for 80 million by 2020.
    Premised on all of the above, I find it untenable, that the man who promoted and abused us in the direction of accelerated investments and heavy industries can now talk as if he cannot understand why the TPPA can be truly beneficial for Malaysia, even if we do not compromise on some of our primary policy requisites.

    I also protest because the international trade and industry minister is left high and dry by all those of us who do understand that Malaysia has real no options but to move forward by being more open and more competitive. Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Yong Poh Kon made this argument, but the NST failed to carry his views, but instead ‘plays politics’ with highlighting only Mahathir’s objections. Why so?

    Mahathir has no credibility or integrity to now protest about newer free trade agreements for Malaysia which gives us competitive advantages vis-a-vis foreign competitors, and especially those which provide many subsidies for their local manufacturers. I think Mahathir’s greatest personal failure was that he did not have the diplomatic skills or competence to move our East Asia Economic Caucus (EAEC) agenda forward and see it realised.

    Instead he sat and oversaw the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit being hosted in Malaysia and we even heard from the then-American vice-president who abused us at the dinner hosted in his honour. The late Noordin Sopiee even took a personal one-page advertisement to distance himself from the American vice-president’s views and positions.

    Enough was therefore said and done but Mahathir now needs to be honest and admit that his blind rejection of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendation were the wrong ways to go, but we failed to listen and have since put all the blame on the World Bank and IMF and instead flown our own flag about the freeze on currency trading as the only way forward.

    Were not the real reasons that we were involved in currency trading and risk-taking and much of the losses which we pay for until today? Both Thailand South Korea followed the World Bank and IMF’s suggestions but they did not fare too badly.

    Today, I see Mahathir doing the same, but by abusing the subject through their Umno AGM framework to create waves within the party by developing his counter-arguments which cannot stand against those who know, but he only appeals to those who do not know.

    Therefore, I call upon NST to please stop playing politics with our economy.

    Nevertheless, I propose one way forward. Our NGO, MiDAS@universities, is willing to organise a debate between Mustapa Mohamed and Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the TPPA and we can even try and get former minister Rafidah Aziz to moderate the dialogue. We can invite about four or five of our best economists to ask the two of them all the important and relevant questions.

    Both can have about 20 minutes to make the case for and against. Let Malaysians then decide whether TPPA is good or bad for Malaysia.

    White House saved by ordinary citizens!

    Hollywood drama is more believable for me; never Bollywood drama. In the above movie ‘the real crooks and bad guys were all were part and parcel of the mainstream’. The good guys were the ordinary citizens, even if with a simple and idealistic framework.

    I fully identified with the ordinary hero’s of the movie and less so with the ‘administrative politicians of expediency’, whose primary values were their egos and their sense of victory of their personal or private agendas.

    Malaysians can learn from watching this movie and applying it to the TPPA issue. We need to know who the real crooks and the real good guys are in life. The movie fits us like a tee. May God Bless Malaysia.

    KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at with any feedback or views.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    The Global Corporatocracy Is Almost Fully Operational

    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2013 AT 1:04AM

    By Don Quijones, a freelance writer and translator based in Barcelona, Spain. His blog,Raging Bull-Shit, is a modest attempt to challenge some of the wishful thinking and scrub away the lathers of soft soap peddled by our political and business leaders and their loyal mainstream media.

    2013 is proving to be a hectic year for corporate lobbyists and free trade advocates, as they frantically flit, like busy bees pollinating succulent orchids, from one global free trade conference to another. And at long last, it seems that their hard work appears to be paying off.

    In the last month alone world leaders from 12 countries, including the U.S., Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Mexico, pledged to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by the end of the year. On the other side of the globe, meanwhile, Europe has signed a sweeping free trade agreement with Canada. And what’s more, despite all the furore over allegations of NSA and GCHQ spying on European national leaders, most EU member states are determined to ensure that the fallout from the scandal does not derail ongoing talks for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a treaty that would effectively knit together countries with nearly half the world’s GDP into a massive free-trade zone.

    Indeed, the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has already suggested that it may be necessary to temporarily suspend negotiations — not out of concern for joining in partnership with a nation whose recent actions have betrayed every possible notion of mutual trust, but rather out of fear that continued negotiations in the current climate could feed anti-free trade sentiment:

    "If such events continue, and more news comes out, I fear that those who are against the free trade agreement in principle will become the majority,” said Schulz during last week’s EU summit. “My advice is to stop for a moment and discuss how we can avoid such a development."

    All of which begs the question: why all the sudden newfound enthusiasm for more free trade? Even more important, why all the secrecy? Why are our leaders desperately reconfiguring the legal super structures of global trade without either consulting their respective voting constituencies or even divulging what is actually up for grabs in the negotiations?

    After all, even by official estimates (which, let’s face it, tend to have a strong upward bias) the economic benefits of the trade treaties will be negligible, at best. In the case of the TPIP, the EU and the U.S. can expect to eventually (perhaps after as long as ten years) receive a 100 billion euro boost to their respective GDPs. It’s the sort of money that, once upon a time, may have sounded impressive or even meant something. But not any more, not since the Fed and the Bank of England led the world’s central banking community on the biggest money printing binge in recorded history.

    Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific region the TPP is forecast to open up massive new opportunities for businesses both large and small, as new trade networks are forged between some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

    However, while the potential benefits of the new trade agreement are supposed to be huge, they cannot as yet be divulged to the public. As U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk recently told Reuters, it’s just too early in negotiations to release a draft text to allow more public input. But that’s not to say “there will [not] be a time, once we have agreed on the text, that we may – as we have with other agreements – be able to release that.”

    The message could not be clearer: to paraphrase the late, great Bill Hicks, go back to bed America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. Your governments are in control.

    The Real Agenda

    As for the few insomniacs who remain fully awake, the real end game in this new age of “free” trade (or otherwise put, corporate protectionism) is becoming clearer and clearer. According to Andrew Gavin Marshall, these new agreements have little to do with actual “trade,” and everything to do with expanding the rights and powers of large corporations:

    Corporations have become powerful economic and political entities – competing in size and wealth with the world’s largest national economies – and thus have taken on a distinctly ‘cosmopolitical’ nature.

    According to a ranking published by Global Trends, 58 percent of the world’s biggest 150 economic entities in 2012 were corporations. They include oil, natural gas and mining majors, banks and insurance firms, telecommunications giants, supermarket behemoths, car manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies.

    The highest ranked company on the list, Royal Dutch Shell, recorded 2012 revenues that exceeded the GDPs of 171 countries, making it the 26th largest economic entity in the world. It ranks ahead of Argentina and Taiwan, despite employing only 90,000 people. Indeed, the combined revenues of the five biggest oil companies (Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, Sinopec and China National Petroleum) were the equivalent of 2.9 percent of global GDP in 2012.

    Should we be at all surprised that these massively bloated private corporations still want more for themselves and, by extension, less for us? After all, perpetual profit and revenues growth are their raison d’être; it’s what makes their sociopathic hearts tick.

    “Acting through industry associations, lobby groups, think tanks and foundations, cosmopolitical corporations are engineering large projects aimed at transnational economic and political consolidation of power… into their hands,” writes Marshall. “With the construction of ‘a European-American free-trade zone’ as ‘an ambitious project,’ we are witnessing the advancement of a new and unprecedented global project of transatlantic corporate colonization.

    At the root of this model is the basic notion that corporate profits and investor returns must at all times supercede all concerns about public interest. As such, as Open Democracy has pointed out, investor-state dispute settlements under TTIP would empower EU and US-based corporations to engage in litigious wars of attrition to limit the power of governments on both sides of the Atlantic:

    Thousands of EU and US companies have affiliates across the Atlantic; under TTIP they could make investor-state claims via these affiliates in order to compel their own governments to refrain from regulations they dislike.

    In the sickest of ironies, as a growing number of countries are questioning and even abandoning global investor-state arbitration precisely because of negative impacts against the public interest, powerful corporate lobby groups in both the EU and the US — including the European employers’ federation BusinessEurope, the US Chamber of Commerce, AmCham EU, and the Transatlantic Business Council — are pressuring for the inclusion of investor-state arbitration in TTIP.

    And as you and I know, they’ll get what they want!

    The Final Pusch

    Just as with the signing of NAFTA and the creation of the Global Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, to later become the World Trade Organisation (WTO), there will be no public consultation whatsoever on the potential ramifications of the treaties.

    And for good reason. For just as the late Sir James Goldsmith warned about GATT, NAFTA and the merging of sovereign European nations into the EU in this eerily prophetic interview with Charlie Rose in 1994, their enforcement will lead to the destruction of millions of middle class jobs and the obliteration of traditional agriculture (as happened in Mexico) and local businesses. And who in their right mind — apart from, of course, our corporate masters and their political servants — would ever vote for that?

    However, the new generation of trade treaties goes far beyond what was envisaged for NAFTA and GATT. What they ultimately seek is to transfer what little remains of our national sovereignty to the headquarters of the world’s largest multinational conglomerates. In short, it is the ultimate coup de grâce of the ultimate coup d’état. Not a single shot will be fired, yet almost all power will be seized and transferred into private hands — and all of it facilitated by our elected representatives who, by signing these treaties, will be permanently abdicating their responsibilities to represent and protect the interests of their voting constituencies.

    For example, as a recent leak of part of the TPP document has shown, the new rules would limit how governments regulate such public services as utilities, transportation, healthcare and education, including restricting policies meant to ensure broad or universal access to those essential needs.

    But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As Alternet reports, the new treaty would also:

    • Grant copyright protection for corporate-created content for a stunning 120 years! It would also transform internet service providers into a private, Big Brother police force, empowered to monitor our “user activity,” arbitrarily take down our content, and cut off our access to the internet.
    • Give Big Pharma more years of monopoly pricing on each of their patents empower them to block distribution of cheaper generic drugs.
    • Strip governments of their authority to regulate exports of oil or natural gas to any TPP nation. This would create an explosion of the destructive fracking process across the globe, for energy giants could export fracked gas from and to any member nation without any governmental review of the environmental and economic impacts on local communities — or on our respective national interests.
    • Prohibit transaction taxes (such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax) that would tax speculators who have repeatedly triggered financial crises and economic crashes around the world. It would also restrict “firewall” reforms that separate consumer banking from risky investment banking, as well as provide an escape from national rules that would limit the size of “too-big-to-fail” behemoths.

    These are merely a sample of the proposals that have made it into the public eye — thanks purely to the actions of a brave (or as the Obama administration would have it, terrorist) whistle-blower. Who’s to say what else is being planned behind our backs and in the conference rooms of some of the world’s most luxurious hotels?

    What is clear, though, is that the global corporatocracy is almost fully operational. The clock is ticking down and unless the people of nations across the East and the West, the North and the South, begin to wise up to the acts of their elected governments, it will soon be too late. The new regime will be enshrined into law and a new kind of dystopia, bearing a disturbing likeness to the inverted totalitarianism foreseen by Sheldon Wolin, will be all around us, in every direction as far as Big Brother’s omniscient eye can see. By Don Quijones.
    Whatever you might read in the news these days, it’s not all doom and gloom in Spain. For a certain segment of the population, albeit quite a small one, life has never been better. They include Rodrigo Rato, the man who many blame for the biggest bankruptcy in Spanish history. Read.... Portrait of a Kleptocrat

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    I Pledge Allegiance to PHRMA

    December 19, 2013

    Editorial By Wendy McElroy

    The U.S. is attempting to give multinational corporations a status that has hitherto been reserved to sovereign nations. According to documents recently leaked from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the Obama administration wants corporations to be able to challenge the laws and regulations of foreign countries, and bring the dispute to a privately-run international court. The World Trade Organization currently grants the power to challenge a nation's laws only to another nation.
    The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement of 2005 (P4) is a treaty between Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei with the goal of facilitating trade in the Asia-Pacific region. Since then, the negotiations for a new and expanded agreement (TPP) have swollen to include 12 nations. The United States has assumed a leadership role since 2010 under the auspice of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). With the possible exception of Japan, the other 10 nations are resisting the corporate empowerment demand upon which the USTR is reportedly inflexible.

    Why were the documents 'leaked' and why is the word 'reportedly' being used? The Huffington Post article (Dec. 8, 2013), "Obama Faces Backlash Over New Corporate Powers In Secret Trade Deal," explained: "The Obama administration has deemed negotiations to be classified information – banning members of Congress from discussing the American negotiating position with the press or the public. Congressional staffers have been restricted from viewing the documents."

    In May 2012, the Democratic Senator Ron Wyden went against his own party to introduce Senate Bill 3225, "Congressional Oversight Over Trade Negotiations Act," which mandated congressional access to TPP documents. In introducing the bill, Wyden stated: "The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations—like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America – are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement.... We hear that the process by which TPP is being negotiated has been a model of transparency. I disagree with that statement."

    The bill was immediately referred to the committee on finance, where it died.

    Continuing pressure from Congress eventually prompted the Obama administration to allow the Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson to read core documents as long as he used no recording device, took no notes and was not accompanied by a staff member. By contrast, corporation representatives can reportedly view the document with a username and password. The tech news business site TechDirt (June 24, 2013) reprinted Grayson's public statement in the wake of his perusal of documents. He stated:

    "1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.
    2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.
    3) What they can't afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified]....

    I will be fighting this agreement with everything I've got."

    Meanwhile, pushback by the other nations negotiating the TPP continues. A point of particular controversy is the American proposal to restrict them from pressing for lower prices on domestic drugs. For example, both New Zealand and Australia have mechanisms by which their public health care systems can either prefer lower-priced generics or negotiate a cut rate from drug companies. The USTR wants to stop this practice; U.S. drug companies are on board.

    Many aspects of the TPP are utterly unknown. For example, no one outside the White House seems to know what the proposed "privately-run international court" would look like. Who would appoint the crony judiciary to hear complaints from the crony capitalists? Perhaps, like Obamacare, the TPP has to be passed before it can be read. And, as with Obamacare, the tactic of secrecy is effective in closing down the discussion of details prior to those details becoming reality.

    For free market advocates, however, the TPP raises a fundamental question that no government obfuscation can quiet.

    Would Corporations Exist in the Free Market?

    Corporations are falling into ever deeper disrepute. Liberal and libertarian voices speak in unison against the TPP and the corporations it would privilege. Prominent Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren are breaking ranks to protest the secrecy surrounding negotiations. This is to be expected. Liberals are profoundly and fundamentally anti-corporation.

    But are libertarians? Or are they merely protesting the granting of privilege to specific corporations that should be competing with small business on the free market? It is an important distinction. If corporations are legitimate business arrangements that have been corrupted by government (and vice versa), then free market advocates need to orient their arguments accordingly. It is an issue that gives such advocates an opportunity to advance their own voice and make a unique contribution to the debate.

    The modern multinational corporation is a product and a beneficiary of the state in terms of tax and legal privileges from stimulus packages to eminent domain; there is little argument on this point. But whether corporations are inherently anti-free market is hotly debated.

    In his magnum opus Man, Economy, & State, Murray Rothbard stated the pro-corporation view... at least, as far as it goes. "[C]orporations associations of individuals pooling their capital. On the purely free market, such men would simply announce to their creditors that their liability is limited to the capital specifically invested in the corporation, and that beyond this their personal funds are not liable for debts, as they would be under a partnership arrangement. It then rests with the sellers and lenders to this corporation to decide whether or not they will transact business with it. If they do, then they proceed at their own risk. Thus, the government does not grant corporations a privilege of limited liability; anything announced and freely contracted for in advance is a right of a free individual, not a special privilege. It is not necessary that governments grant charters to corporations."

    In short, Rothbard argues that free-market corporations are nothing more than individuals pooling capital according to agreed upon risks and hope of reward. Liability to creditors could be contractually limited to the capital invested. The liability to consumers could be limited by information printed on products by which they would know (or should know) any risks involved. The situation becomes stickier on matters such as a harm or tort inflicted upon individuals who are neither creditors nor consumers. For example, how would a corporation address an environmental disaster? Such situations are currently and largely addressed by granting limited liability to the shareholders of corporations.

    Anti-corporation libertarians object. After all, if an individual commits a tort, he is held legally and fully responsible for restitution. Why are individuals who form a corporation that commits a tort held liable to a limited extent? Otherwise stated: A group cannot possess more or different rights and responsibilities than those of the individuals who comprise it. If X is responsible for a harm to Y, then a group of Xs who inflicts the same harm are equally responsible. Becoming a group does not limit the restitution due to Y. Thus, even Rothbard rejected the limited liability of corporations on tort matters. Indeed, limited liability in tort is the main stumbling block in the libertarian debate over whether corporations could exist on the free market.

    Frankly, I don't know the answer. But I do know the solution. Get government out of the process. Strip corporations of every scrap of government privilege or exception. It will then become evident if the business arrangement known as 'a corporation' can successfully compete. Perhaps the arrangement will devolve to joint stock companies, which were the forerunners of the modern corporation. Perhaps the free market will provide its own natural limits on torts by making corporations emphasize safety or by carrying insurance against such claims. Again, I don't know.

    But, again, I do know that while everyone else focuses on the Great Satan of corporations, free market advocates should drive home the fact that the problem is a creation of the state. Without state privilege and state muscle, corporations would rise or fall on merit and free-market forces. Rather than attack corporations – which morphs in most people's minds into an attack on business itself – free market advocates should attack the state.

    Whither TPP?

    Happily, the USTR is having difficulty convincing non-US nations that U.S. multinationals should have a sovereign status in court that is on par with their own. Happily, powerful Democrats are bristling at being told a key trade agreement is "none of your business." If the TPP does go through, then the situation that is likely to result has been foreshadowed by the North American Free Trade Association. The Huffington Post article commented:

    "Under NAFTA, companies including Exxon Mobil, Dow Chemical and Eli Lilly have attempted to overrule Canadian regulations on offshore oil drilling, fracking, pesticides, drug patents and other issues. Companies could challenge an even broader array of rules under the TPP language."

    As Grayson stated, the TPP is "NAFTA on steroids" and it is aimed at clamping down on one of the few areas of economic growth in the world: the Asia-Pacific region. Or, at least, placing that region under greater control of U.S. Corporations.

    - See more at:

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Kanagawa Shimbun, Japan

    TPP Negotiations: Seize Initiative from America

    By Editorial

    America’s egocentricity is unacceptable.

    Translated By Stephanie Sanders

    14 December 2013

    Edited by Gillian Palmer

    Japan - Kanagawa Shimbun - Original Article (Japanese)

    The year-end settlement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) has been postponed. The next ministerial-level talks are on course to open at the end of next January, but agreement is nowhere in sight. America’s uncompromising stance provides the setting for stalled negotiations.

    In a continuing conflict with the Senate, President Obama’s balance of power throws a shadow. If the contents of the agreed-upon settlements cannot gain approval, it could be fatal to him as a national leader. Next November’s mid-term election, which could affect the course of the administration, also will inevitably be a hard-fought campaign.

    The structure of negotiations is becoming “the U.S. vs. the other 11 countries, including Japan.” Saddled with its domestic affairs and rushing to conclusions and results, the U.S. is the one who should make concessions. I would like Japan to brace itself carefully, without regard to the settlement period.

    America’s egocentricity is unacceptable. Japan, while having strong connections to the U.S., is a major economic superpower in Asia. It can play the role of mediator between the U.S. and Asia. If Japan strengthens ties with rising nations like Vietnam, it will be in range for seizing negotiation leadership from the U.S. I want to find common ground with Japanese leadership.

    In the negotiations so far, Japan has offered proposals to the U.S. in the automotive sector in particular. Because of those conditions, I would like to defend — at all costs — the exceptions to tariff removal concerning the five important agricultural sectors.

    Recognition of the so-called “handover of American sovereignty” is heard from other participating countries. I would like to cooperate with participating countries and increase international opinion, which will lead the U.S. to concessions.

    Senior Vice Minister of the Cabinet Office Yasutoshi Nishimura, who attended in place of the ailing minister Akira Amari, carried out his duties. Despite rejecting America’s demands by saying “We cannot give even one millimeter,” negotiations did not break down. Each country in Asia, having come to regard Japan as pro-America, will also likely change its perspective.

    In light of the announced minister’s medical condition, he will return to official duties in time for the upcoming ministerial-level talks. If the U.S. proceeds with full scale negotiations with Minister Amari, who has a tacit understanding with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the U.S. will not be able to unilaterally impose only its own claims.

    President Obama is considering a tour of Asia, including Japan, around next April. The aim is to demonstrate his abilities on the diplomatic front and to regain domestic unity. Most likely, he truly intends to reach an agreement concerning the TPP no later than before his overseas travel schedule.

    As time passes, President Obama’s prestige decreases. America is the one most in a hurry. I want to focus on the other party’s weak points. Now is the time for Japan to demonstrate its hard-line diplomatic skills.

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